Payday Loans

September 2008 Monthly Archive

Wow. You can totally tell the difference. Like, totally.

Since American Express did away with the 5% cashback on gasoline for the Simply Cash Business card, and my sister is hoarding the other family member account for Costco (which requires me to sign up for a new Costco membership if I want the TrueEarnings Business Card from Costco and AmEx) — I’ve decided to convert my Blue from American Express to Blue Cash from American Express. Oh, how I hate my sister.

Huh what?

Alright, here’s the gist in a possibly easier to understand version: I want a 5% cashback on gasoline credit card because my current Chase Freedom card only gives 3% cashback and I’m reluctant to open yet another credit card account, so I’ve decided to convert one of my American Express credit card.

Converting the card is straight forward enough, you grab your see through Blue AmEx, flip the back of the card and dial 1-888-BLUE-741.

After navigating through the voice menu, simply tell a customer service rep that you’ll want to convert your card. They may or may not transfer you to someone that specialize in this procedure.

Mr. Cap, I’d love to be able to help you convert your card today, but I see here on my screen that you have about 11,000 in Membership Rewards points left on your Blue card.
Huh what?
Claim your damn points or you’ll lose them when you convert, asshole. (I may have paraphrased this a little bit).
Okily Dokily!

After spending $11,000, I now have points to 'reward' myself. So sweet...

So I have 11,000 points. What should I get from the Membership Rewards catalog?

I was thinking a Bluetooth headset for my Blackberry (although I’m perfectly fine with the $2 wired headset I have right now) along with some random $40 gift card, or a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue gift card that I’ll later sell on eBay.

Hmm… what a troubling quandary (What? DJI down almost 778 points? Controversial stabilization act failed to pass the House? This is more pressing dammit).

Look for a full review of the card once I get a chance to take it for a test spin.

P.S. I was kidding. I love my sister. *Aww*

Related Links and Resources:

Refreshing to see sound advice from a large investment management company during troubled times.

It’s a week or so old, but sound financial advices are timeless (woo super cliché).

From [Vanguard views on recent market events]

JP Morgan Chase Acquires WaMu

First thing’s first: all depositors will have access to their cash come this Friday morning. The bank isn’t going to suddenly disappear overnight, so if you’re concerned about your savings, checkings, and what have you — you’re fine (only ones getting screwed are holders of 30+ bil in debt and preferred stocks).

The rebranding of the numerous WaMu branches and credit card accounts should occur over a span of two years, so it looks like I just got myself another Chase credit card.

(Providian > WaMu > Chase > hey what’s next?)

The news of course broke last night, but instead of linking you to numerous news report written by various media which tends to make things more confusing… here’s the full 411 from Chase themselves:

What’s different?
  • Your deposits at WaMu are now backed by the financial strength of Chase in addition to continuing to be insured by the FDIC.
  • If you bank at both WaMu and Chase, your deposits continue to be insured separately today just as they were yesterday, and generally will be for another six months. At that time, your deposits will be insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000 per depositor (with an additional $250,000 for self-directed retirement accounts), and will continue to be backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase.
  • Learn more about the size and strength of our company.
What stays the same? Continue to bank just as you usually do:

  • same account numbers,
  • same Washington Mutual name on your account,
  • same checks, debit cards, credit cards, deposit slips,
  • same online banking website and passwords,
  • same branches & ATMs,
  • same familiar bankers, and
  • same great service!
What will change? Soon

  • You’ll be able to use over 9,300 Chase ATMs fee-free – jointly, that’s 14,000 ATMs for your banking convenience!

In the future

  • You’ll begin to see the Chase name on your statements, online, and on your credit cards as they reissue.
  • Your branch will be re-named Chase and you’ll be re-issued new debit cards with the Chase name. Until then, bank as you do today.
  • As our systems merge, you’ll be able to use any of the Chase branches nationwide. This won’t take place this year, and we’ll let you know well in advance of any changes.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What will happen to my account at WaMu? And to my branch?
A. It’s business as usual. As of September 25, 2008, JPMorgan Chase has assumed the deposit and loan accounts, and all branches, of Washington Mutual. You can continue to access your accounts just the way you’ve accessed them in the past: use your same branch, same debit, credit and ATM cards, same checks.

Q. Is my money safe?
A. Yes; in addition to FDIC insurance, now you’re assured your bank is backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase. If you have money in both banks, your deposits have separate FDIC insurance for up to six months. Come see us and we can help you review your coverage.

Q. What if I have more than $100,000 at WaMu?
A. Your money is secure and now protected by the strength of Chase. Chase assumed all deposits of Washington Mutual.

Q. When can I bank at Chase branches in my area?
A. We’ll be working hard to combine systems as quickly as possible so you can begin to enjoy expanded branch convenience in your area, and we expect system changes to begin late next year. We’ll let you know in advance of any changes; in the meantime, simply continue to bank at WaMu branches as you do today.

Q. Do my direct deposit, automated payments and transfers remain the same?
A. Yes. These services all continue for you without interruption or action on your part.

Q. Where do I send my credit card and loan payments?
A. There is no change in how or where you make payments; payment instructions and addresses remain unchanged.

Q. I have a Chase credit card, car loan, and mortgage. Can I make payments at a WaMu branch now?
A. Not yet! We’ll let you know when you can make Chase credit card, car loan, mortgage or other loan payments at WaMu branches, or vice versa.

Q. I have deposit accounts at both WaMu and Chase. Are both of my accounts insured?
A. Yes! Your deposits are insured separately today just as they were yesterday, and generally will be for another six months. At that time, your deposits will be insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000 per depositor (with an additional $250,000 for self-directed retirement accounts), and will continue to be backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase.

Q. I’m a small business owner. What will change for my business?
A. Immediately, no change at all – bank just as you do today. As our systems merge, we look forward to bringing you innovative services ranging from online invoicing to convenient ways to help you manage your cash flow. Chase is a national leader in business banking services, and is the nation’s #1 SBA lender.

Q. I have a relationship with the WaMu Commercial Group. What will change for my business?
A. Immediately, no change at all – work with the Commercial Group just as you do today. As our systems merge, we look forward to bringing you innovative services. Chase is a national leader in commercial lending and cash management solutions.

From [WaMu Customers, Welcome to JPMorgan Chase!]

T to the R to the I to the A to the L. Trial... Credit Reporttt DOT COM!

The problem with staying up into the wee hours of the night is that you’ll be hit with various types of television ads with incredibly annoying jingles — is one such type of ad.

Now, as a quasi-marketer, I appreciate the fact that The Martin Agency was able to come up with such catchy/annoying jingles, but the deceptively named service makes me wish Experian would have found a crappier marketing agency instead.

It has been two years since Experian, the company that owns, took obvious advantage of the government mandated Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act to promote their ‘free’ credit report service.

A lawsuit from the FTC, an inquiry by the Florida Attorney General, and thousands of consumer complaints later… continues to operate, and the catchy/annoying jingles continues to interrupt my favorite episodes of Kim Possible (just kidding, the ads aren’t placed into animation time slots).

The gist is simple: back before the complaints and lawsuit, Experian pitched FCR as a source to get “free” credit reports. What many consumer missed are the fine prints that states the requirement to enroll to Experian’s “Triple Advantage” program in order to receive a free credit report. The charges for the enrollment vary, from $79 per year to $12.95 per month to the current $14.95 per month.  In either case, canceling became a hassle, and many people either forgot or were unable to cancel within the trial period.

The current websites’ disclaimer and fine print is a bit clearer, but the color scheme and design obviously wants you to avert your eyes away from the notice of trial period (currently only 7 days) and monthly membership fee (currently $14.95).

Now, if you’re fully aware of the type of service FCR offers and still want in, then more power to you (FCR does offer unlimited Experian credit score and report along with credit monitoring), but you’re probably better off with other sources for your check needs:

Better, Cheaper, and Free Alternatives

  • For your truly FREE annual credit report that’s provided by FACTA, head to No credit card information is required.
  • For a credit score with more weight and use, head to and purchase a single score from a credit reporting agency of your choice (the link gives a 20% discount, which brings the cost for a single score and report to $12.76).
  • For a credit monitoring service, consider Score Watch, also from myFICO. This service has a 30-day trial period option, otherwise it’ll cost $99.95 per year, or $9.95 per month with 3 months minimum required

Don't panic! Marvin's here to save your portfolio from complete meltdown. Or not.

With one of the largest investment bank declaring bankruptcy; the largest insurer needing a federal bail out; and the largest thrift in the country putting itself on the auction block — if this isn’t an appropriate time to reference a relatively obscure sci-fi work, then I don’t know what is.

More crappy jokes on a crappy blog aside, seeing hundreds of billions of capital wiped out within a day or two is definitely no fun.

As it is now, it’s easy for the rest of us to make irrational decisions from fear and anxiety. But for most of us average Joe, now’s certainly not the time to make panic driven decisions. Yes, it would have been nice to reallocate your retirement and investment accounts a week ago — or hell, earlier this year — but we can’t always make investing decisions after the fact.

The list of current to-do’s can vary depending on your situation, but if you’re concern, it doesn’t hurt to double check your FDIC and SIPC coverage limits on your various types of financial accounts.

Since I’m too much of a wuss (and a moron) to give out further advice, for more resources, check out links to other personal finance bloggers on these matters:

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Just wanted to be hip and cool and use “f’ing” for once in the headline.

  • Six Things More Expensive Because of Marketing –  From Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Headline is pretty self explanatory, from black pearls, bottled water to diamonds, marketing has been injecting pseudo-value into various products since the dawn of the consumer era.
  • Amazon Prime Review: 5 Reasons to Try it Out if you Shop Online – SVB from The Digerati Life takes a look at Amazon Prime and list some reasons why it may be worthwhile.  Personally, like SVB, I’m willing to wait. I don’t think I’ve ever spent the extra beyond standard shipping for anything I’ve bought online.
  • Avoiding shopping temptation – Plonkee writes about the slippery slope of heading to the store for a particular item, only to spend more than intended. My solution? Never leave the house.
  • Money Matters for All Ages (PDF eBook, 581 KB) – Can’t recall if I’ve ever linked to this eBook, but a very complete guide on personal finance from 16 personal finance bloggers.

P.S. My mom says I’m totally cool.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 Netbook

  • Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz (ala Pentium M 1.2 Ghz in performance), 512 MB of RAM, 80 GB SATA HDD, GMA 950, 1.3 mp webcam, 3 cell battery and Windows XP Home.
  • 9.8 x 7.2 x 1.08 inches; 2.4 lbs; $429 MSRP.
  • Hands-on Video from Laptopmag on Youtube.

When the netbook market started getting more of a traction last year due to the release of the Asus EEE PC — I proclaimed aloud into an empty room on how I’ll never buy a wannabe laptop with zero functionality, battery life, and processing power. Soon after the declaration, I closed the Firefox tab and went back to my intensive game of Minesweeper.

A little over a year later, while on a different Firefox tab browsing through Fatwallet, I saw a ridiculously low-priced Lenovo IdeaPad S10 ($362 after coupon and cashback), whipped out my credit card and hit the submit button on the ordering page before I even knew what happened.

Hmm… f*ck.

But truthfully the impulsive purchase wasn’t as impulsive as it reads, because I knew there was quite a time frame involved before the Lenovo S10 was available to ship, giving me some time to cancel the order (and now it seems that shipping time frame will be even longer, maybe all the way into November).

After some consideration of other netbooks in similar configurations — such as the Asus EEE PC 1000H; the MSI Wind; the nicely priced Acer Aspire One ($400 for 6 cell on Amazon); and the recently released Dell Mini 9 — I decided to keep my order of the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, even with Lenovo’s entire sketchy pre-ordering ordeal (if you’ve also ordered an IdeaPad S10, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

The decision process was as follow:

  1. Not much of a laptop person (in fact, never owned one), but got sick of bumming laptops off friends and family when I needed the mobility.
  2. With netbooks pricing of around $350 to $550, you’re coming close to various categories of budget laptops, which are usually 15″ machines weighting at about 6.5+ pounds.  Not my cup of tea.
  3. A full-feature portable laptop (that’s under 3 or 4 pounds) will cost more than $1,500… and I’m just too much of a cheap ass to spend that much.
  4. Recent netbooks are equipped with bigger hard drives and Windows XP, giving you the option to run other applications so you can do more than just surf and type.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 Shipping

In either case, the Lenovo isn’t shipping until supposedly September 23rd (realistically a much later date), so I’ll have many more nights to sleep on the purchase.  But I think I’ll end up keeping the order — after all, blogging in a Starbucks or Panera Bread has always been my childhood dream.

Update: Just for those people stumbling in via search looking for updates, Lenovo has updated the ship date to 10/21/2008. If you’ve ordered a white one within hours when it was available on Lenovo’s site, you should have yours shipped recently on 9/23/08. Supposedly the white ones are shipping first. Meh!

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